I recently visited the Frida Kahlo exhibition “Making herself up” at the V&A museum with a friend. It is on till 4th November so if you get a chance it is well worth a visit.
Her story is one of tragedy, strength and endurance. At the age of eighteen, Frida had a horrific accident whilst travelling on a bus. She was seriously injured and nearly died. Throughout her life she suffered constant pain yet despite this she became a famous artist.
Her unique creativity shone through not only in her art but also in her personal style. Her trademarks are instantly recognisable. The flowered headbands and plaits, floral blouses, unique jewellery and boldly patterned or embroidered dresses.
The exhibition at the V&A is dedicated to exploring how this significant artist fashioned her identity. It displays Frida’s clothes and intimate possessions to offer a fresh perspective on her compelling and stylish life. They included the corsets she wore to support her spine and the built-up shoes she needed to even up her legs. One was shorter than the other due to her having contracted polio at the age of six.
Frida Kahlo Making herself up
Clothes can express a person’s identity
Whilst clothes played a huge part in shaping Frida’s identity, she had substance as well as style. Her stylish tailored suits, for example, challenged the norms of masculine and femininity at the time. Kahlo often crafted her looks to double as political statements, always keen to reference her identity and dual heritage. Her father was German and her mother half Ameridian and half Spanish.
Frida’s cultural pride following the Mexican Revolution was apparent in her clothing—she often wore embroidered Tehuana dresses, which were originally worn by women from the South Mexican region.
Her traditional clothing choices often had strong associations with or were influenced by powerful women. She saw her clothing as an extension of her art and as a way to tell stories.
Bold colours and prints were her signature style
Think bold, clashing prints in vivid colours, rich silks, brocade, embroidered elements, square-neck tops and ruffle-hem details. She was a huge fan of colour, enjoyed shopping and even dabbled in design—making her own statement jewellery.
Frida may have been born in 1907, but her eclectic style appears to be influencing fashion to this day.
I tried to get tickets for the two weeks I was there, but no luck. Oh, I would have loved to see this!! Thanks for the colorful post.
Josephine—I wanted you to know that you’ve been a wonderful fashion guide for me. I make some of my clothes and I’m in the stage of learning and practicing alterations to my patterns as well as altering bought clothing. I’m somewhat tempted to buy or make clothes that are appealing without considering if they are most flattering. I’ve made a few mistakes. Since I’ve been following your blog I pretend you’re telling me “not your best look” or something along those lines. Thank you for helping me to stay focused!
Thanks for your lovely comment. I am glad that my blog is helping you to refine your style.
What a remarkable woman Frida Kahlo was! Her life was her artistic statement. Clothes were her heritage, her political statement, her rebellion, her way of making her disfigurement matter less, a testament to her female power. They certainly weren’t fashion, but they were her highly-personal style. At a time when women followed designer dictates for silhouette and hemlines, she was having none of that. Her clothing told her personal story, her way.
It also took a certain amount of privilege to be able to express herself this way. Most of us don’t have that option. She was an original, from a unique time and place.
I enjoyed this article:
Hi, As a 70 year old woman in North America, I have shared more grins and conversations with Vancouverites by wearing my quirky outfits and hats. It is only second to walking a friendly adorable dog! Cheers, Judy @fancified.ca